Pastoral Counseling can have two components; community counselor and/or Christian counselor. As a trained community counselor one draws from understanding of human behavior (emotional, social and physical) and psychological norms. The problems are addressed through using various counseling techniques, interventions and resources. A Christian counselor sees a person through a more holistic spiritual prism, which includes healing of the spirit/soul of man. Understanding a person more fully is drawn from the belief that man is created in the image of God. While a person can learn how to behave externally to improve behavior, communication and/or relationships, healing of the spirit and emotions can change a person’s life inwardly and more completely. The Pastoral counselor depends on the Holy Spirit to discern the problem as they listen and focus on what the person is sharing. They seek to be guided and lead by the Holy Spirit as they facilitate the person working through the problem and/or healing process. The person seeking counsel needs to ask the Holy Spirit to help them become Christ-like and heal their pain.
Benner (2003) recommends five structured short-term counseling sessions to focus on one problem. This gives enough time to assess, identify and implement a strategy to work through the main problem. The Pastoral counselor will draw from counseling techniques and intervention approaches both from psychology and Christian counseling. Some examples of the techniques that can be used in the therapy sessions are; role plays, bibliotherapy, meditation, breathing techniques, recall of memories, therapy techniques for anger, and theophostic prayer (particular to Christian counseling). Role play can be used to work on a new behavior such as what to say and how to respond to an aggressive person, or role playing for a job interview. Bibliotherapy, literature, is used to support the person by reading information on their problem such as losing a spouse to death, or techniques for success or how to prepare for an interview. Inspirational Christian stories of how God interceded in a person’s life during a crisis can be particularly uplifting and encouraging. Biblical scriptures such as Proverbs and the Psalms can be used during meditation. The weaknesses and strengths of a Biblical character can be studied as a model of overcoming. Meditation techniques can be used for relaxation and reducing stress. Soothing music can be incorporated into the meditation period as well as breathing exercises. Logotherapy can be used to help a person recall good memories and Theophostic prayer can help victims of sexual abuse heal from their past. Though Theophostic prayer is not a counseling technique is is used as a spiritual tool to help bring Christ into the devastating memories and be have their mind be renewed with truth and the Holy Spirit.
A community counselor can incorporate pastoral counseling in their private practice. A Pastoral counselor can work at a hospital, nursing home, church, pregnancy or rehabilitation. A Pastoral counselor at a church can minister to the people of the church and community in multiple ways besides individual therapy. Group therapy can be developed on topics such as loss and grieving, teen sexuality, pre-marriage and Christian counseling. Social activities can be developed for all age groups Family retreats can be organized or workshops, and/or seminars for the church or Diocese on finances, living wills, legal power of attorney, etc. Parenting classes can be developed for parents wanting to know appropriate developmental stages and positive ways to train up a child. Inventories and career/college planning workshops for high school students can be implemented. Resources lists should be at the fingertips of counselors for individuals when there is a need/assistance for food, housing, clothing, and heat. The Pastoral counselor can visit the sick, the infirmed, and the house bound. They can be an advocate for the abused and console and counselor those in crisis. In closure, the Pastoral counselor, trained as a community counselor, can help people who seek help care and healing, be it mentally, emotionally, physically, socially or spiritually.